SABC CEO Frans Matlala suspended

The SABC on Wednesday announced the suspension of its Group CEO Frans Matlala, four months after he was appointed. By Naledi Shange, NewsAgency


Spokesperson for the public broadcaster, Kaizer Kganyago said Matlala had been suspended pending an investigation.

“The SABC’s Group Executive: News and Current Affairs, Mr Jimi Matthews, will be acting GCEO during this time,” he said.

While the details around Matlala’s pending investigation were unclear, Kganyago said they would not comment any further on the matter until all processes were finalised.

Matlala’s suspension comes just four months after his appointment.

He took over in July following the abrupt resignation of Lulama Mokhobo in February 2014 after just 14 months into her five year contract.

Matlala is the SABC’s 9th CEO – including those who were appointed in an acting capacity in the position for a period of time – to be in charge of the public broadcaster since 2009. – News24

SABC adds first ever animated web series 


Systraat will also be the SABC’s first show to roll out and be “broadcast” online first before it’s shown on linear television.

Systraat (“Sidestreet”) is produced by Stemmburg Television – also responsible for the long-running Afrikaans music competition show Noot vir Noot and the more recent Musiek Rouletteon SABC2.

The first episode will debut on 24 November at 21:00 on SABC3’s YouTube channel.

Systraat’s internet debut follows the second season of Clifton Shores, now retitled as The Shores, also currently playing out with a new episode weekly on YouTube as the South African TV industry starts to move more TV content to viewers through over-the-top (OTT) players and platforms.

The new web series follows the comedic exploits of the Afrikaans Kotze family and will have English subtitles. –

Channel24

FNB partners with DFA

 

While competition among South Africa’s four leading banks is fierce, FNB has successfully managed to keep bank charges down while offering improved services and unmatched connectivity—keeping it ahead of the game. Its success strategy has involved a partnership with DFA, owner of South Africa’s largest open-access high speed fibre network.


Future proofing the network

Access to high speed fibre connectivity was a fairly new concept for the local market in 2007, and there were a limited number of providers able to meet FNB’s needs. To overcome this issue the bank registered as an ISP and acquired an Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) license, which allowed it to establish its own fibre network.

The bank then partnered with DFA to leverage its fibre infrastructure to connect its major campuses in the Johannesburg CBD, Selby, Randburg, Sandton and Fairlands via a high-speed network. On the back of this successful initiative, FNB expanded its fibre connectivity to its data recovery site in Pretoria.

With the partnership having expanded its extensive fibre network, FNB now has 10 times more bandwidth available and reduced its telecommunications bill significantly. These cost savings have been passed on to its customers, who are experiencing significant benefits typically unheard of in the banking arena.

The initial investment in the fibre network was substantial, but the bank has, over the past six years, seen significant cost saving benefits. According to Andy Boden, senior network architect at Connect First Telecoms (Pty) Ltd, FNB’s network arm, “It was cheaper for us to light up our own fibre network using DFA’s open access fibre and infrastructure, than to continue using the existing telecommunications model we had relied on to deliver bandwidth and make phone calls.”

The bank was able to see significant savings as part of its switch to a high-speed fibre network, and used this to fund the second phase of its fibre network. The bank has already started to connect every single branch via its fibre network in an effort to further reduce its costs and improve its customer service offering.

The fibre advantage

Over the years the bank has increased its bandwidth from two 1Gbps lines to four 10Gbps links. This gave it a significant connectivity boost, improving its service offering to clients. By partnering with DFA, FNB enjoys 99.98% uptime just on the passive network alone.

By using a fibre network, FNB has reduced its latency, which typically impacts on the speed of the service delivered to the customer. This is particularly true for ATM transactions that need to be written and queried across various databases before money is released to the consumer. For this purpose, the bank relies primarily on fibre connectivity with a satellite backup, which results in a latency of 600 milliseconds for a satellite based connection, compared to the 20 milliseconds offered by fibre.

With the low latency of its fibre and because it is a registered ISP, FNB managed to negotiate deals with other ISPs and telecommunications providers, eliminating the need for a traditional voice service. The bank now relies on Voice Over IP (VoIP) for all calls leaving its network, while its agreements with the mobile telecommunications providers allows for reduced interconnection fees, which brings down the cost of its outgoing calls.

Freedom to innovate

The bank believes that the more it can offer its customers outside of traditional banking services, the more value they bring to their lives. In addition, giving customers free bandwidth coupled with award-winning apps and online banking solutions makes banking with FNB simple and affordable and ultimately improves the customer’s overall banking experience.

According to Boden, “The desire to roll out fibre-based broadband connectivity across the entire business was dreamed up over eight years ago. At the time DFA was a small company that believed in our vision and worked with us to bring it to fruition. Today FNB is winning local and global awards, and it is primarily based on the technology solutions that we have developed, while the investment we have made into our own fibre network enables us to deliver our innovations seamlessly.”

Driven by the desire to improve its customer service, FNB has invested in its fibre network to bring more value to its customers. It is on the back of this successful venture that the bank is able to continue innovating and offering better services and more appealing offerings over and above the standard. It is an investment that keeps it a step ahead of the competition.

MTN share price hammered over fine worries

MTN’s share price continued its downward trend on Tuesday as news emerged that the Nigerian authorities would not reduce the $5.2bn fine. By Duncan Alfreds, NewsAgency


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) slapped the hefty fine on Africa’s biggest mobile operator after MTN failed to register 5.1 million SIM cards. The NCC however cut MTN some slack by extending the November 16 deadline for payment to an undisclosed date. The $5.2bn (over R74bn) fine is based on a charge of 200 000 naira ($1 005) for each unregistered customer.

According to data from INET BFA, MTN’s share price dropped as much as 9.5% and traded in a broad range of between  R132.01 – R143.75 in brisk trading as worries about the operator’s ability to pay the sanction rattled investors.

The share price has since clawed back gains and by 11:32 on the JSE the shares were changing hands at R141.78 (-1.95%).

MTN said on Monday its newly appointed executive chairperson Phuthuma Nhleko had personally met with the Nigerian authorities to continue the ongoing discussions with them regarding the fine.

“The discussions include matters of non-compliance and the remedial measures that may have to be adopted to address this.”

Nhleko took over the reins at MTN last week after CEO Sifiso Dabengwa quit amid the Nigerian debacle.

The NCC has committed that the fine deadline will be extended while negotiations are ongoing.

MTN’s share price has declined by 32.85% in the last year.

– Fin24

High speed networks to drive mobile data spike

 Higher speed long term evolution (LTE) networks are set to drive a massive increase in data consumption in sub-Saharan Africa, said a new report. By Duncan Alfreds, NewsAgency


According to the Ericsson Mobility Report released at the AfricaCom tech conference under way in Cape Town, data traffic is expected to grow 15 times between 2015 and 2021, reaching 2 200 Petabytes.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, the dividends of connecting the unconnected through mobile broadband access and driving new services cannot be overlooked as it allows business and society to fulfil their potential and create a more sustainable future,” said Fredrik Jejdling, regional head of Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa.

The massive growth in data will be driven by the adoption of smartphones, and the report shows that the gadgets will consume 95% of mobile broadband data by 2021.

However, currently in the region of 500 million or 70% of subscriptions are GSM/EDGE, though Ericsson expects this to change rapidly as operators roll out higher speed LTE connections.

Far behind

In SA, policy to make spectrum available in the key 800MHz frequency has been held up by the failure of the regulator to finalise policy rules.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa defended its position on spectrum, saying that it was being held up by the executive.

“Part of the problem is there is a spectrum policy that must be promulgated,” chief executive Pakamile Pongwana said at a recent hearing of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communication.

In comparison with developed economies, sub-Saharan Africa trails Japan, the US and South Korea which are expected to deploy 5G networks to 150 million subscribers by 2021, the report found.

Ericsson expects that by the same year 4G will make up 80% of connections in the local region as video demand drives consumption.

Data networks in the region will unlock economic growth, said Jejdling.

“Increased connectivity improves the prospect of financial inclusion for the 70% unbanked through mobile money services starting to take form across Africa. The same is true for transformation in the agriculture, healthcare and even the media industries.” – Fin24

Breaking Bad is coming to ShowMax

 

From 17 November, the highly acclaimed series Breaking Bad is coming to ShowMax. Breaking Bad, which debuted in 2008, tells the story of high-school chemistry teacher Walter White who branches out into the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs after learning that he has terminal cancer.


Over five seasons and 62 episodes in total, the tale of Walter’s desperate bid to make money for his family in the time he has left unfolds.

Speaking about bringing Breaking Bad to ShowMax, head of content Victor Eckard said: “Breaking Bad is simply epic. It’s one of the most witty, clever, dark and inventive shows I’ve ever seen. We’ve already got more than 20 000 episodes of TV series and movies on the ShowMax catalogue but there’s always room for more, especially when they are this good.”

ShowMax is a subscription video on demand service launched in August 2015 with the largest content catalogue in Africa. Priced at R99 per month for unlimited viewing, ShowMax can be accessed via dedicated smart TV apps, via desktop and laptop computers using a web browser, and via tablets and smartphones using iOS and Android apps.

Subscription video on demand is a new way to watch video entertainment that is rapidly gaining popularity across the globe. Content is delivered via an internet connection and can be started, paused and stopped at will.

“Breaking Bad is a great example of the allure of a service like ShowMax. With subscription video on demand, the entire history of popular series is available in one place. You can start, stop, pause at any time, and when the show is as compelling as Breaking Bad you can keep watching episode after episode in a non-stop viewing marathon.

 

“With so many series out there there’s no way to catch them all as they air for the first time, but you can now pick and choose the best and find out what everyone else has been raving about,” said Eckard.

 

Two different shows can be viewed simultaneously on separate devices with one ShowMax subscription. This means that parents can watch Breaking Bad on their smart TV at the same time as the kids catch their favourite cartoon on their tablet.

No additional hardware is needed to access ShowMax, just an internet connection. For the best quality service, a high-speed connection of 4 Mbps or faster is recommended. Video is data-intensive, so having a high data allowance or uncapped data package is preferable.

ShowMax offers a risk-free seven day trial to give potential customers a chance to test out the service before paying for it. To access the free trial, simply sign up on www.showmax.com and enter payment details. If the subscription is cancelled within the first seven days for any reason, then there will be no charge.

Big data revolution has arrived in sport

 

We are still in the early stages of a new era in sport: the era of big data. Most sports fans love statistics.  Goals, points, runs, saves. They are the tools of the trade. But it’s only recently that we started paying attention to advance data, or analytics, which was strange and controversial just 15 years ago. By Brett Parker, MD at SAP Africa


Let me tell you a story about a major sporting event that happened in Europe. Fans traveled hundreds of kilometres to be there. There were no hotel rooms available, so they pitched tents and slept outside. Before the event, they prepared a feast, drank and were filled with excitement.

Then, the moment they were waiting for arrived. They stood all day in the hot sun, cheering on the athletes in contests of speed, power and endurance. The winners became hometown heroes and had statues built in their name.

The event I’m describing took place 2,000 years ago – the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, but I could just as easily be describing the World Cup or Wimbledon today.

Brett-Parker---MD-SAP-Africa400x700
Brett Parker, MD at SAP Africa

Naturally, there are some important differences between then and now, but the truth is that not so much has changed over the centuries. Our passion for sport has always been part of our human DNA. Although today’s race cars may go faster than chariots, the Ancient Greeks would fit in perfectly at a Formula One track.

What has changed, however, is how we experience sport. Over the last century, advances in technology have revolutionised sport. In the 1920s, radio stations started airing boxing matches, bringing the sounds of live competition to millions of people for the first time. By the 1940s, television networks were broadcasting games, and fans could actually see their favourite athletes run, jump and hit from the comfort of their homes. As sports media grew, so did our ability to engage with the competition we crave.

Today, our ability to process incredible amounts of raw data is transforming professional sport at every level – from the fans at home, to the owner’s box, and on the playing field. That transformation is getting a big push from SAP.

Our SAP Sports One solution launched in the summer is the first sports-specific cloud solution that includes team management, player training and fitness, scouting, and performance insights on a single, unified platform. We are creating prototypes that will help teams and players predict and prevent injury with our SAP Injury Risk Monitor, pilot version. And our SAP Tennis Analytics for coaches, available exclusively to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), is live and giving players and coaches a competitive edge right when they need it most during a match  – all powered by SAP HANA.

No matter what team or player you root for, we know the winning formula in sports is technology that turns big data into smart data, making sports more competitive for players, fun for fans and successful for clubs.

Players, coaches and teams are stepping up their data A-game as well. After all, nobody wants to let down a sports fan.

Pre-Christmas Trends on bidorbuy

If pre-Christmas searches are anything to go by, this festive season many visitors to South Africa’s online marketplace bidorbuy would like Santa to bring them – a drone. By Staff Writer


“The term drone is now among the ten most frequent searches on the site, shoulder-to-shoulder with watches, smartphones, laptops, tablets, consoles, games, toys and hobbies”, says bidorbuy CEO Jaco Jonker.

The most sought after watch seems to be Rolex, although that search probably belongs in the domain of wishful thinking, as the pricing on bidorbuy starts from R5000 for a small second-hand ladies’ watch to half a million rands for a new men’s watch.

The bidorbuy CEO says that iPhone wins hands down among smartphones, with the majority of searches going specifically for the iPhone 6s. Visitors to bidorbuy are about four times less likely to search for a Samsung smartphone; however, when it comes to actually buying, the two best known smartphone brands are on par.

In gaming, Xbox One and Playstation 4 enjoy equal popularity. Currently, Fallout 4 leads the video game searches, closely followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Halo 5 and Fifa 16.

In the toys and hobbies section, the most popular searches are for Lego, Marklin railway models and the already mentioned drones.

“The drones made their way into the top searches almost a year ago, and are still safely holding their position on the list of most searched terms on bidorbuy”, says Jaco Jonker and adds: “Wearable tech devices such as smartwatches, especially Apple Watch, GoPro miniature attachable cameras, as well as health and fitness monitors are also enjoying undiminished popularity.”

However, selfie sticks, which were extremely popular last season, seem to have fallen out of public’s favour. These days, they cannot be found even among the top hundred.
A substantial number of visitors are searching for big-ticket items such as television sets, fridges, air conditioners and, increasingly, 3D printers.

Traditionally; online shoppers start their holiday shopping earlier than “regular” shoppers, usually at the beginning of November.

“To help them navigate through about two million products listed on bidorbuy, we have put together a Christmas gifting guide”, says Jaco Jonker. “At the end of November, bidorbuy will be hosting massive sales spanning over two weeks, conceptualised around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Mobile helps boost Telkom earnings


Telkom’s group net revenue increased 1.2% year-on-year for the six months ended September 2015 from R13.29bn to R13.45bn.

A key challenge for the company has included its fixed-line voice usage revenue which decreased 14.1% to R3.1bn. The number of Telkom fixed lines in South Africa also continued to fall from 3.5 million in September 2014 to 3.3 million in September 2015.But revenue from mobile service and subscriptions increased 41% to R1.2bn and data revenue jumped 69% to R711m.“We are pleased with the improved performance of our mobile business and our multiyear cost efficiency programme and will continue with these initiatives to bring about further improvements,” said Telkom Group chief executive officer Sipho Maseko in a statement.

Growing mobile revenues helped the group also record a 13.9% increase in headline earnings per share. The company’s operating expenses have also declined 2.3% to R9bn amid job cuts.

While debt levels have increased in the period under review, Telkom said it intends to spend R10bn through its Openserve wholesale broadband vehicle which it hopes will connect one million homes to fibre broadband by 2018.

Telkom also said that despite strong competition, its ADSL revenue increased by 5%. Capital expenditure increased by 20% to R2.3bn as the firm expands its fibre and mobile networks.

That investment is vital for Telkom which has just 2.2 million mobile subscribers, making it the smallest player in SA. The company is considering a bid for Cell C which should give it around 25 million subscribers should the deal get the green light.

The company is also racing to develop its LTE or higher speed long term evolution sites to compete with Vodacom and MTN.

Leading SA operator Vodacom said that it expects data to make up half of revenue by 2018.

For Telkom, moving to mobile is key as fixed line voice revenue declined by 3%.

“Although challenges remain, we are confident that our turnaround strategy and other growth initiatives will deliver the results we have been working toward,” said Maseko. – Fin24

MTN making ‘headway’ on Nigeria fine

Nigerian regulators’ decision to extend a November 16 deadline to fine MTN R74.8bn suggests discussions are making headway, says an analyst. By Gareth van Zyl, NewsAgency


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued a R74.8bn fine to MTN last month for failing to disconnect five million unregistered SIM cards in a timely manner.

The NCC then set a deadline of November 16 for MTN to pay the fine.

But MTN, which has 62 million subscribers in Nigeria, said in a market update on Monday that “Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded”.

MTN therefore appears to be making headway in its discussions on the fine in Nigeria, said managing director of technology research firm World Wide Worx Arthur Goldstuck.

“What it suggests is that the regulator is not being hard-nosed about the process,” Goldstuck told Fin24.

“The fine itself might have been excessively hard-nosed but it appears that in the discussion there is a little more leeway, otherwise they wouldn’t have given the extension for the discussion.

“What it further suggests is that the regulator is wanting to see what further steps MTN will take to address the lapse of governance that led to this situation,” said Goldstuck.

The large size of the fine could also be a move by the regulator to prove it has “muscle” rather than finding additional sources of revenue for Nigeria amid declining oil prices, added Goldstuck.

“If they were just looking for the money, they would have gone for a smaller amount. It wouldn’t have led to protracted negotiations,” Goldstuck told Fin24.

“It’s certainly a positive sign and I expect their share price to recover a little on that news, because if they weren’t going to budge, today would have been D-Day,” Goldstuck added.

MTN’s share price in Johannesburg was up 0.05% on Monday morning to R145.07.

Engagement continues

Meanwhile, MTN’s engagement with the NCC continues, said the company’s executive for group corporate affairs Chris Maroleng.

“It would appear on the face of it that the deadline will not apply until of course we have arrived at a mutual agreement,” Maroleng told Fin24.

“We will wait on the authorities in Nigeria to give us a sense of where and how they expect this fine to be settled,” said Maroleng.

Maroleng further told Fin24 that MTN’s executive chairperson Phuthuma Nhleko has been “engaged with authorities in Nigeria over the past few days”.

Nhleko took over the reins at MTN after the company’s group chief executive officer Sifiso Dabengwa resigned last week amid the Nigerian fine.

He also stepped down after almost a fifth of the company’s market value was wiped off, days after the fine was announced.

In the meantime, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is also investigating the manner in which MTN announced its fine to shareholders and possible insider trading. – Fin24